Solar electric panels are made from silicon cells connected together in a series that are sensitive to light. When the silicon cells receive light from the sun they produce electricity. If you are looking to buy solar panels then there are three different types to consider.
The most efficient type of solar panel not surprisingly is also the most expensive. These are known as monocrystalline solar panels and are made from silicon in a single continuous crystal lattice structure. They are virtually free of defects or impurities. They have the advantage of being able to perform better in poor lighting conditions.
The most common type of solar electric panels are the polycrystalline type. These are made from cast silicon blocks comprised of many silicon crystals. Whilst not as efficient as the previously mentioned single type of panel, the difference in efficiency isn’t usually enough to make a huge difference in the amount of electricity that is generated.
The cheapest type of solar electric panels are also the least efficient. Therefore the cheaper the panel, the more likely you are going to be need more of them or bigger panels to generate the electricity you require. These cheap solar electric panels are known amorphous panels. They are manufactured by laying a thin film of silicon across a large stainless steel plate.
The factors you need to take into account when buying solar panels are the amount of electricity you need to generate, the amount of space you have to mount them and how much direct sunlight they will be able to receive. The better quality of the panel the more efficient it will be and the less space it will take up. You may need to buy more expensive solar panels in order to fit them into the space you have available and produce the amount of electricity you require.
Solar electric panels range in power outputs of between1 and 300 watts. The voltage for solar panels below 135 watts is usually 12 volt. For the larger solar panels the voltage will be between 21 and 40 volts. If you wish to use your solar panels to charge batteries to store your electricity the higher voltage solar panels will be needed.
The industry standard is to rate all solar electric panels by their wattage. This is used to indicate how much power they will generate when exposed to full sunlight at temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade. Obviously this is an average rating so in real terms there will be some variation in their actual performance based on your geographic location.